French knot tutorial
To learn how to do French knots, why not check out my French knot tutorial. It includes:
- illustrated embroidery stitch instructions
- French knot videos (one for right-handers and one for left-handers)
- tips for success
- variations on French knots, including lazy French knots
- French knot alternatives, including colonial knots
- Royal School of Needlework stitch bank.
French knot uses
French knots are a very popular and commonly used stitch. You can use them for any design which needs single dots or for filling space with groups of dots to create texture, for example on French knot embroidery flowers.
There’s a definite knack for doing French knots, so my video demonstration on this page will be useful for right-handed people. There's also a French knot embroidery video for left-handers on my Facebook page.
In this photo the French knots are the dots at the end of each spoke in my stitch sampler design:
French knot tutorial
- Bring the needle up through the fabric.
- Wrap the thread round the needle three times, coming over the top of the needle towards you.
- Holding the thread tight, pull the needle back through the fabric close to where you first came through, but not in exactly the same spot.
French knot video
French knot tips
- The trick is not to put your needle in exactly the same hole you brought it out of as it will just come undone without forming a knot.
- Don't pull your thread too tight or it will be difficult to pull your needle through, but you need to pull it tight enough for the thread to stay wrapped around your needle. With practice, you'll find the right tension and it will feel natural.
- Hold onto the thread in your non-needle hand, keeping it pulled until the last minute. That stops the thread from knotting and stops the wraps coming undone.
- Consider using a lap stand if you're doing a lot of French knots. Keep scrolling for more information on lap stands.
Download my free stitch guide covering 10 basic embroidery stitches, including a French knot tutorial.
Lazy French knots
This stitch is done in the same way as ordinary French knots but with the thread left loosely coiled around the needle, not pulled tight. It gives the effect of lovely loose curls, so it’s great for curly hair or a woolly coat in my sheep embroidery kit.
- Bring the needle up through the fabric. Wrap the thread around the needle 3 times, coming over the top of the needle towards you. Keep the thread loosely wrapped around the needle.
- Pull the needle back through fabric close to where you first came through but not in exactly the same spot.
Lazy French knots video
French knot alternatives
If you really struggle with French knots, you could try colonial knots instead. The finished knots look similar, but some people find colonial knots easier to do.
You could also use alternative stitches such as seed stitch or little cross stitches instead of knots, depending on the pattern.
Colonial knot instructions
- Bring the needle up through fabric, lay it down into a backwards C shape.
- Put the needle though the C, going over the bottom of the C and under the top of the C.
- Then wrap the thread under the end of the needle, going from right to left to form a figure 8 shape.
- Holding onto the thread, pull it around the needle. Put the needle down close to where it came out, gently pulling on the thread as the needle goes through to form the knot.
Embroidery lap stand
If you're doing a lot of French knots, consider using an embroidery lap stand. You can use both hands for stitching because you aren't having to use one hand to hold the hoop. You'll also avoid getting cramp from doing a lot of repetitive stitching.
I used the Sonata lap stand below to work my blue hearts embroidery design which is entirely made up of French knots. I like this one because, unlike many other lap stands, it holds my own (very old, but much-loved!) embroidery hoop. You put the stand under your thigh when you're sitting down.
Customers tell me that a lap stand has been a game-changer!
More on French knots
The Royal School of Needlework has a stitch bank which aims to preserve every known stitch. It will become a world-wide directory of embroidery stitches. You can read their stitch bank entry for French knots and colonial knots.